Thursday, 17 February 2011

"To climb steep hills requires a slow pace at first"

 Morning at Roche aux Sabots carpark

I guess the title quote is quite appropriate for where I am at in this journey so far. After the first week I couldn't help but feel a bit despondent. It seemed that I had been waiting to start "working" the classic problems that I had envisioned in my mind for so long, and as soon as I set foot in the first climbing venue I damaged myself. A week of boredom followed and the torture of looking at the boulders from the distance of where the van was parked. Nonetheless, no need to cry over spilled milk and all that! After the red lights of Bas Cuvier we decided to try a new spot to set up camp, as the shifty looks from people entering the carpark were making us feel a little unnerved. The choice was Roche Aux Sabots carpark. We were surprised to find that there was a working water tap here and would therefore be able to stay until our next "pit stop" at the campsite in Bouldancourt (the following Thursday). It was also very quiet and surrounded by forest which was a bonus. At the time of writing no "dogging" activity has been glimpsed.

The first day here, for me, was very much the same as the days of the previous week. More reading books and not much else. Thankfully we have brought a small library with us that consumes a good percentage of the roofbox so there is always something different to read. On Friday the sun was shinning. Not only physically, but also in my mind (how poetic). The finger that I had strained the week before felt much stronger and I was certain that I could cautiously get back onto the rock. Although this was not a day of "crushing" the big numbers for me it was just amazing to have the feeling of being "back".

Friday was also an excellent day for Chris. After parting our ways in the morning so that Chris could work the harder problems he ended up meeting a person who has subsequently helped him to see the light... well at least show him the importance of using good footwork. The chap in question is one of the local "Bleausards" called Fabrice. He evidently took Chris on a whistle stop tour of the classic 7a's in the area and showed him the tricks and techniques needed to conquer them. I met up later with Chris and Fabrice by which point Chris had ticked off 7 of them, 6 of which were "flashed". Impressive stuff. It was at this point that I considered it might be good for my own development to shadow the all wise Fabrice. With his direction I was able to drag myself up a 6c+, which I was happy with given that I was no where near 100%. I hope that this isn't the last we see of Fabrice, not only because his knowledge of the area is staggering, but he is also a very encouraging and enjoyable person to climb with.

During the rest of the week we went to Apremont, 95.2 and Elephant but spent most of our time at Roche aux Sabots. We got chatting to a German couple (Christian and Anya) who were also doing the traveling thing and who were living out of an old Mercedes van. Anya told me that the van had been previously used to deliver cement and the sign writing of the previous owner was still visible on the van. Quite a novel touch. I was well impressed with some of the ideas that she had put into the conversion and hope to implement some similar ones into the Beastmobile. Christian and Anya were also living out of Sabots carpark and so they became our neighbors for a couple of days. Their company was much welcomed and it was good to be more sociable for a change. Hopefully we will continue to meet people like them during our trip.

With respect to our diet we are now slowly diverting away from the "tin can, throw it in a pot", mentality, to the more experimental, hmm lets chop some veg up and boil some rice one.... Scratch that. Chris has just interrupted me whilst I have been writing this post saying that he has accidentally started cooking the tinned Ravioli when he had already started to cook rice! Tonights dinner was meant to be chili con carne, but would appear now to be rice and ravioli! "Plonker".

As there is nothing really for me to mark up as any particular achievement, so far, here is a list of the climbs that Chris has notched up over the past week.
  • Le oblique 7a (Sabots)
  • Graviton 7a (Sabots)
  • Gravillon 7a (Sabots)
  • Le jeu de toit 7a (Sabots)
  • Jet set 7a (Sabots)
  • Les yeux 7a (Sabots) 
  • and 4 further unnamed 7a's (Sabots)
  • unnamed prow 7a (95.2)
  • Le Couer 7a (Elephant)
  • La Barre Fixe 7b+ (Elephant) 
Today we arrived once again at Boulancourt campsite and have allowed our skin to touch hot water after a 7 day restriction. More hand washing of clothes, cleaning and tidying the van and surfing the net has consumed most of the day. It is always nice to have access to the Internet so that we can communicate with friends and family and update our blog.

We are becoming more eager to use the HD video camera now so hopefully in the next installment we will be able to post some videos of our most memorable climbs to date. Looking forward to a good, dry, sunny and productive day at Elephant tomorrow. Fingers crossed.
Watch this space!


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